Carlsbad caverns national park encompasses a massive cave system that sits in the southeastern part of New Mexico. This park is one of my favorites in the entire USA. The cave system here is mind-blowing at every turn, and it is something you really need to experience. Be sure to also go down the natural entrance if you can handle the hike, as it was a highlight for me. Here is all the information. 


  • $35 or free with a parks pass (4 adults per pass when I went)
  • Hours: check the website for current hours

Getting There

We spent the night in Carlsbad the day before and left at around 7:15 AM to get to the park before opening at 8 AM.


Here is the video I made on this trip.

When we got there, my dad let me out to get in line, and I was number 38, with another 30 or so people behind me by the time it opened. It was self guided during this time.

This was amazing as I got to go at my own pace, and there were large sections of the cave where I was all alone, which was a unique experience.

When it was time for my group to enter, you could choose either the elevator or the natural entrance. I highly recommend the natural entrance if you can do the hike. 

The natural entrance drops over 750 feet on 60 switchbacks into the cave.  It’s crazy, as it just seems like it never stops going down. 

Along the way, the views are epic as you enter the cave and continue down switchbacks. 

After getting into the mouth of the cave, you will bend away from the light, and it will be all artificial light the rest of the way. 

The next mile or so has you continuing to go down as you enter massive chambers and see all sorts of formations. This beginning was incredible. It felt like a true adventure, unlike any cave I had been in before.

There is a section here called the Devil’s Spring, which has water as well, and you will often feel drops of water as you are walking along.  Along the way, there are many different information plaques, which are well lit so you can see everything. 

The next point of interest was iceberg rock, a large rock that had fallen in, and unique formations had grown from its underside. 

This is also where the old entrance was into the cave.  The trail then continues until it drops you into the Big Room, highlighting the entire trail. 

The Big Room 

I have to say that the Big Room is stunning, and nothing I can say here would prepare you for how amazing the views are.

The section through the hall of giants is the most stunning part I have ever seen in a cave. The formations here are massive, and each could be their central point of interest in another cave.

Each bend brings a new one, from a giant dome to the Temple of the Sun. 

Eventually, you will reach a junction and take the shortcut back to the entrance if you don’t want to keep going. The rest is fantastic, and you should do it, but if you turned around here, you would have seen the best part to me. 

From here, the trail continues to bend as it returns to a view of the lower cave. It then heads to the top of the cross, like an underground amphitheater used for cave talks. It’s a good spot to sit and soak it all in.

After the top of the cross, the cave gets pretty dark for the next section. It was a little hard to see, but there are a few excellent points of interest, like the mirror lake, which reflects a formation, and the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit looks like it from this angle.  The trail bends around, and there are a few more unique formations before it returns to the shortcut. 

Leaving the shortcut, you will see two of the best formations in this section, the first of which is the Crystal Springs dome, a flowstone. From there, you will start heading uphill to Rock of Ages, one of the most stunning formations. 

For me, this was the last major area before returning to the elevator. Of course, there is still more to see as you hike there, but even these unique formations seem less epic after what you have already seen.

The elevator will take you back to the gift shop, completing your time in the cave. I can’t stress enough how amazing this park is. I already can’t wait to go back and do it all again. Let me know what you think in the comments.